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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

21 Ways to Become A Productive Writer in 21 Days

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July yesterday!

Of course, with all the barbecues, potato salads, cakes and fireworks, probably had us all so stuffed physically and visually to write a thing. I know I haven’t, especially as I’ve written only bits and pieces, here and there while on my blogging break.

But as a balance, I’ve been reading like it’s a zombie apocalypse. And trying to read as many stories as I can before the door busts down by a horde of zombies surging through it and to me. After all, Stephen King said “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

I haven’t been writing a lot but at least I’ve been reading a lot. All I have to figure out now is how to balance the two for the second half of my blogging break and hereafter. And reading a lot happens to be part of today’s post too.

So, you’ve probably heard or been witness to an author who spits out books faster than the Flash or Superman. And you wonder (envy or hate) how they’re able to do that. How are they so productive? And how you can do the same? Sad to say, that not all writers write the same way. And I don’t mean in terms of voice but in how they approach the writing process. Some take longer than others to write and publish a book. It does not mean that they are less productive. We all each have our own pace. And let’s not forget to factor in that most of us have children, work, etc. Then they’re times when our creative wells dry up or tragedy strikes in our lives.

Life happens. And a book is not a race. Again we all have our own pace. But at the end of the day, it’s our perseverance and determination is what’s important.  And to write, rewrite, revise and edit those stories can be done by forming  good habits. Which will then lead to becoming productive writers.


Well take a look at the title of my post? Quite catchy and intriguing  isn’t it? Before, I start in with my list as the post title promises, let me give you fair warning. Contrary to popular belief, an individual cannot form a habit in 21 days. The actual time frame can be anywhere from at least 21 days or a month and up to almost a year. So don’t feel discouraged if you’re unable to do any of these methods everyday. And or for 21 days straight until you’re able to do it without thinking. As long as it enables you to write the required letters, words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters.  However long it takes won’t matter.

So, you want to be a productive writer? Try any one of these 21 methods to get and keep your writing juices flowing:

  1. Read. Yes read and read a lot.  It’s both a pleasurable and learning experience.
  2. Do word sprints. Write as much as you can without stopping or no hesitation. And within the allotted time you give yourself. It can be 15 minutes, or 20 or 25.
  3. Take a walk. Hey, I know they said to sit on your butt and write. But a sedentary life is not good for you health wise. Physically or mentally. So get out and get some fresh air, whether it's for 20 or 30 minutes. It's up to you.
  4. Read your genre. Elizabeth Sims, author of You’ve Got a Book In You said it best, in one her chapters, to study the master. If you’re a romance writer, read romance novels/authors who make it on the bestseller list. Same for horror, mystery/thriller, fantasy, etc.  
  5. Free write by hand. Take a pen/pencil and just write. Like a diary, write out your heart and soul of your story. It doesn’t matter if any or all of it will make it into the book. Just write to clear the cobwebs or for fun. Just write.
  6. Turn off your inner editor. It’s an advice often said during NaNoWriMo. But can be applied daily. It’s not always easy to do but ignore that tiny voice in your head. You can always go back and fix or change something later. That’s what revising and editing is for. Ignore it and bracket, highlight it or use parenthesis and add a note to whatever that tiny voice is trying to lure you to do.
  7. Drink 8-10 glasses of water everyday. Your brain needs water. If you’re not drinking enough water, you’re more apt to lose focus more easily.   
  8. Start each morning after you wake up with a glass of water. (a continuation of # 7)
  9. Read outside your genre. Yes, read outside your genre. Most books are not limited to one specific genre. They’re actually a blend of two or more. And learning the components of what makes a good mystery, for example,  could help strengthen your own story.
  10. Create daily to-do lists. Set day to day goals you want to achieve. It can be anything from the number of words you write or to write a blog post. Pick your tasks for the day and check them off.
  11. Get plenty of sleep. Let’s face it, a well rested body makes a much focused mind. We all know what time we have to get up in the morning. So we must ensure our bodies get the required 8-9 hours of sleep it needs.
  12. Write a poem. Poetry is a form of reflective writing that also provides a depth richness to the written word. Stuck on a scene or setting? Or just plain stuck? Try writing a free poem about it. And maybe you’ll find the words you’re looking for.
  13. Do a writing prompt. Prompts are good ways to rejuvenate your mind. Or when you’re in need of plot ideas. Plus it’s fun.  Especially if you need to take a break from your story. Writer’s Digest has a writing prompt every Tuesday. Iauthor uses an image and prompts its Facebook followers for the opening lines to the photo. Or you can use a writing prompt generator.
  14. Stop writing. Ernest Hemingway found it more important to stop writing even if you know what’ll happen next in a story. Even when you’re on a roll. So stop, go to bed and let your subconscious mind stew and begin anew and refresh tomorrow.
  15. Read a bad book. Yes, I mentioned reading three times already. And now to read a bad book no less? Well, we can learn just as much as from the mediocre as we can from the masters. It’ll help boost our analytical, revision and editing skills. You have no idea how many times I’ve rolled my eyes and started immediately thinking the ways I would’ve wrote/rewritten something I read. It also doubles as a how not to write fiction lesson.
  16. Turn off the internet. If you’re not doing this already, then you should start. The internet is a time suck and this I know from experience. That’s why I stay away from sites featuring pictures of animals looking cute or doing cute things. I"m not about to go down that road. So give yourself time, however long is up to you, to turn off distractions.
  17. Limit social media. Either give yourself 1 hour a day to do your social media business. Or turn it off. (See #16)
  18. Start your day with optimism. How? Look in the mirror and tell yourself “I’m going to write something kickass today.” I know it’s a little self-helpy. But it’s the lack of belief in ourselves  as writers that can halt productivity.
  19. Eat healthy. A healthy body means a healthy brain. And let’s face it, the foods we snack on while we’re writing aren’t always healthy. Put down those chips and snack on some healthy sweets like blueberries, grapes and oranges. No more fake sugars or sweeteners and drink more green tea.
  20. Read. I can’t stress this enough but read. Either 1 hour a day or 1 chapter a day. Make time to read so that you can gain the tools to write.
  21. Write. Write 500 or 1,000 words a day. Just write, however much and whenever you can. Just write.

Have any habits or routines you'd like to add? Any productivity tips you like to share? What are you doing to stay focus on your writing?


Liz A. said...

I love #15. Although, sometimes the bad book really pisses me off, so I have to kind of step back from it.

Lidy said...

Yes #15 is a good one. And it makes it hard so hard not to do a DNF (do not finish). To keep turning the page...wow.That's brave and dedicated.

An Apel a Day said...

I certainly need to turn off the internet from time to time. My biggest distraction is my kids though. Can I turn them off as well? Ha! After they go to sleep I usually feel done with the day.

Lidy said...

@alissa me too. There are times when they'll listen when you ask for a bit of peace and quiet to write. But that only lasts so long until you hear a suspicious loud thump. And or followed by a scream, "mommy!" I've found that like how I used to lock myself in the bathroom to read in peace from my brothers when I was younger, still works today. Or lock yourself in the bathroom. You can try bringing them with you to the library because they often have events for kids. Like bringing in a companion dog for the kids to read to (the library close to me does that).

OEBooks said...

Nice list. Favorites that helped me was keeping a journal, life experiences, and listening and observing life.

Lidy said...

@oebooks Thank you. I've also started carrying around a mini notebook and pen in my pocket. Never know when you'll hear a phrase, see something or a train of thought sparks your inspiration.

Kristie Suul said...

I do a lot of reading, mostly inside my genre but occasionally outside of it as well. I typically read more in the second half of the year because the first half is so busy.

I've also started doing word sprints with my friends, which we started doing together since we're doing Camp NaNo.

This is my first NaNo anything, and though I don't think the actual NaNo would be my thing, I'm loving Camp.

So far my favorite kind of sprints are 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off. I can get lunch, hang some laundry, take care of the kids, etc. in my off 15 minutes and then buckle down and write for 15.

I'm not the fastest writer, but I've written more in the past week than I have for the prior 6 months of the year.

Great post! Lots of cool ways to be productive and yes, we can't all be like those amazing authors who crank out a perfect book in 4 months. I do envy them, but I also remind myself that I have a lot of other things that I do with my life.

Darla M Sands said...

Excellent tips. I especially appreciate the notes about adequate hydration. I probably annoy loved ones about the topic now and again. And on that note, I'm going to refill my cup. ~grin~ I should go write a poem, then, and share it on my blog. I'm particularly fond of (though not good at, I'm sure) simple haiku. Happy reading and writing!

Lidy said...

@kristen thank you. It's great that you're enjoying camp NaNo. Have you given any thought to taking part in November for NaNoWriMo?

@darla thanks. Keeping yourself hydrated is very important. Especially with the current heatwave we're experiencing. Amazing how something so simple as a glass of water is also instrumental.

Heather Hayden said...

These are great tips! I struggle with #7 sometimes... But getting better and it does really help with focus.

#15 and #9 are happening more now, as well--it can be difficult to finish a book, but I do give it my best shot.

Music word sprints are great too--find an inspirational soundtrack and write for the duration of the song.